President Jefferson wanted Meriwether Lewis to know more about observing and collecting plants before he left on the westward journey. He sent Lewis to Philadelphia to take crash courses in all the important sciences, including botany.
Lewis' Philadelphia education proved valuable after all. He learned how to identify and collect plants, and he gained the vocabulary needed to describe plants. Of the plant collections that survived the journey, 94 were new to science.
Another side to the plant story is the great deal of scientific study that came in the years following the expedition. Besides Lewis, six other men recorded new plants and the wildly exotic landscape in their journals. Their descriptions had an invigorating effect on the publishing of new plants collected in the West. But there is another side to the plant story. The trees, shrubs and wildflowers seen by the expedition were a source of great beauty and wonder. That beauty inspired some of the richest and most eloquent prose found in their journals ... to which the information on this site would most certainly attest.